This month marks the 55th year of volunteer service at The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) for Shirley McDonald. Recruited by a neighbour more than half a century ago, Shirley came in every Wednesday morning, exchanging babysitting duties with another neighbour to ensure she would be available to help hospital patients each week.
“The hospital was quite small back then. You could really see where the help was needed,” says Shirley, who began her commitment to TSH in Paediatrics. She recalls meeting a very special little boy, Freddie, who had burns all over his body. She got to know him pretty well, since patients stayed in the hospital for a longer period of time in those days.
“He cried often while he was here, but one day I came in, and he was feeling better and just ran to me, smiling,” she remembers. “That moment has always stood out for me. It was a wonderful feeling.”
Today, Shirley works in the Volunteer Services office handling a wide range of tasks, including assisting with interviews for new volunteers. Her contributions to the hospital have not gone unnoticed.
At a special volunteer appreciation dinner held during National Volunteer Week, Robert Biron, President and CEO at TSH, surprised Shirley with two wheelchairs on behalf of the hospital. Shirley’s name and the length of her service to TSH are featured on the back of each wheelchair, which will be available for patient use at the Birchmount and General campuses. Her grandson, Michael Johnston, even flew in from Vancouver Island to celebrate the occasion.
“I just couldn’t believe it. It was awesome,” says Shirley, of being presented with the personalized wheelchairs. “It was very humbling to tell you the truth. I never expected anything like that.”
Reflecting on her service over the years, she shares that she has made “wonderful, precious friends” at TSH, and notes how much the hospital has grown and how busy it has become. Shirley enthusiastically encourages anyone who may be thinking about volunteering at TSH to do so.
Individuals who are interested in joining the hospital’s team of more than 750 volunteers can visit www.tsh.to/careers-volunteering/volunteers/becoming-a-volunteer/ for more information.